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RI ACLU Finds Suspension Discrepancy for Black vs. White Students

Monday, March 10, 2014

 

The Rhode Island ACLU released a report Monday that revealed public school suspension rates of black students in the state is at its highest point in nine years. The report, titled “Blacklisted: An Update” shows that white students where suspended at record low rates, while minority children were issued out-of-school suspensions at highly disparate rates for minor disciplinary infractions.

The report is a follow-up to a similar one issued by the ACLU in June of last year. Key findings from the 2012-2013 school year include:

 • Black students were suspended from school 2.19 times as often as would be expected based on their school population. This is a record high suspension disparity for black students over the nine years the ACLU has studied. Hispanic students were suspended over one-and-a-half times as often as expected. White students, in contrast, were suspended just 0.64 times what would be expected, a record low.

 • Twenty-five school districts disproportionately suspended black students. Twenty-six school districts disproportionately suspended Hispanic students.

 • Suspensions remained endemic at the lowest grades, and continued to disproportionately affect minority students. Nearly 1,400 elementary school students – and 147 first grade students – were suspended last year, and black elementary school students were suspended more than three times as often as expected based on their representation.

• Despite nationwide efforts to promote the use of out-of-school suspensions only in extreme circumstances, over 60 percent of the suspensions for Rhode Island students last year were for low-risk behavioral infractions.

• One-third of all suspensions were served for the vague infractions of “Disorderly Conduct” and “Insubordination/Disrespect.” In fact, thousands more suspensions occurred for “Disorderly Conduct” and “Insubordination/ Disrespect” than for assault, bomb threats, breaking and entering, possession or use of controlled substances, fire regulation violations, fighting, gang activity, harassment, hate crimes, hazing, larceny, threats, trespassing, vandalism or weapon possession combined.

• More than a quarter of elementary school suspensions were for “Disorderly Conduct” alone. Despite making up one-third of the elementary school population, black and Hispanic students constituted two-thirds of the elementary school students suspended for “Disorderly Conduct” or “Insubordination/Disrespect.”

• Although the total number of suspensions overall was down from previous years, that reduction can be attributed almost exclusively to implementation of a law passed by the General Assembly in 2012 prohibiting out-of-school suspensions for attendance infractions. In fact, while overall suspensions decreased, the number of suspensions for low-risk behavioral infractions increased by more than 400.

“Rhode Island’s students deserve an education system that seeks to promote rather than punish them, and efforts by educators and the legislature in 2014 can make that possible,” the conclusion of the report states. “Swift action by Rhode Island’s leaders can ensure that another cohort of children does not find themselves the subject of increasingly grim statistics, and instead finds them granted all the educational opportunities we have to offer them.”

 

Related Slideshow: RI Home Schooled Students

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34. Central Falls

Home schooled students per 1,000: 1.1

Total home schooled students: 3

Total public school students in district: 2,694

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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33. Barrington

Home schooled students per 1,000: 3.6

Total home schooled students: 12

Total public school students in district: 3,334

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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32. Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 3.7

Total home schooled students: 89

Total public school students in district: 23,827

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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31. North Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 6.0

Total home schooled students: 21

Total public school students in district: 3,498

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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30. Johnston

Home schooled students per 1,000: 6.5

Total home schooled students: 20

Total public school students in district: 3,095

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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29. Lincoln

Home schooled students per 1,000: 7.9

Total home schooled students: 25

Total public school students in district: 3,182

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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28. Pawtucket

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.0

Total home schooled students: 15

Total public school students in district: 8,953

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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27. Westerly

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.3

Total home schooled students: 25

Total public school students in district: 3,016

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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26. North Smithfield

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.7

Total home schooled students: 15

Total public school students in district: 1,729

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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25. New Shoreham

Home schooled students per 1,000: 8.8

Total home schooled students: 1

Total public school students in district: 114

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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24. Bristol-Warren

Home schooled students per 1,000: 9.0

Total home schooled students: 31

Total public school students in district: 3,429

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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23. Cranston

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.05

Total home schooled students: 106

Total public school students in district: 10,552

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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22. South Kingstown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.3

Total home schooled students: 35

Total public school students in district: 3,397

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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21. Middletown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 10.6

Total home schooled students: 24

Total public school students in district: 2,267

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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20. Narragansett

Home schooled students per 1,000: 11.5

Total home schooled students: 16

Total public school students in district: 1,396

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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19. East Providence

Home schooled students per 1,000: 12.0

Total home schooled students: 64

Total public school students in district: 5,321

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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18. Glocester

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.2

Total home schooled students: 7

Total public school students in district: 529

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

 

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17. Smithfield

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.4

Total home schooled students: 32

Total public school students in district: 2,396

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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16. Cumberland

Home schooled students per 1,000: 13.5

Total home schooled students: 61

Total public school students in district: 4,531

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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15. Burrillville

Home schooled students per 1,000: 14.2

Total home schooled students: 34

Total public school students in district: 2,401

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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14. Warwick

Home schooled students per 1,000: 14.6

Total home schooled students: 137

Total public school students in district: 9,393

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Photo: Flickr/Ken Zirkel

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13. Jamestown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 15.8

Total home schooled students: 8

Total public school students in district: 507

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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12. North Kingstown

Home schooled students per 1,000: 16.5

Total home schooled students: 67

Total public school students in district: 4,056

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

Photo: Flickr/C. Hanchey

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11. Coventry

Home schooled students per 1,000: 16.6

Total home schooled students: 83

Total public school students in district: 4,992

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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10. Portsmouth

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.0

Total home schooled students: 45

Total public school students in district: 2,647

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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9. Foster-Glocester

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.3

Total home schooled students: 20

Total public school students in district: 1,153

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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8. Woonsocket

Home schooled students per 1,000: 17.9

Total home schooled students: 106

Total public school students in district: 5,920

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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7. West Warwick

Home schooled students per 1,000: 18.4

Total home schooled students: 63

Total public school students in district: 3,421

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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6. Scituate

Home schooled students per 1,000: 18.7

Total home schooled students: 27

Total public school students in district: 1,448

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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5. Tiverton

Home schooled students per 1,000: 20.3

Total home schooled students: 38

Total public school students in district: 1,873

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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4. Newport

Home schooled students per 1,000: 23.5

Total home schooled students: 47

Total public school students in district: 1,996

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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3. Foster

Home schooled students per 1,000: 25.7

Total home schooled students: 7

Total public school students in district: 272

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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2. Chariho

Home schooled students per 1,000: 26.8

Total home schooled students: 92

Total public school students in district: 3,427

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

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1. Little Compton

Home schooled students per 1,000: 42.3

Total home schooled students: 11

Total public school students in district: 260

Note: Data reflects October enrollment period for school year 2013-14.

 
 

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Comments:

George Orwell once said that some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, but then Mr. Orwell didn’t know the ACLU. I think it would useful for the core leadership of the RI ACLU to volunteer to serve pro bono for 60 days as a teacher's aide in those schools that disproportionately suspend students. Then we might get something from the ACLU that approaches rational analysis of what is a significant and complex problem. Then we might get something that demonstrates the ACLU understands the enormous challenges that teachers face in the class room. Then we might get something that would better insure that classroom discipline is maintained for the benefit of all students and especially minority students. However, one gets the sense that the ACLU is not interested in rational analysis or understanding or a stable earning environment, but only in creating victims out of whole cloth.

Comment #1 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 11

How many of the kids of any race are from poor and single parent homes. That would probably be a better link to causation than we have a racist culture of teachers and administrators.

Comment #2 by Redd Ratt on 2014 03 11

If your white, than I guess you'd want it to be that way.

Comment #3 by bill bentley on 2014 03 11

Bill,

To want it to be what way? What if you are Asian? What if you want a good education? The point here is that a disparate impact approach fails the reason test. There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which polices disparate impact in lending - turns out that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fails a disparate impact test in internal performance evaluations. Disparate impact bites back.

Comment #4 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 11

Blah, blah, blah; cracker obfuscation. In a Rhode Island Training School report, 50% of all incarcerated youth have no school record for 1 year leading to their arrest; of the reaming 50% mostly d's and f's. Attendance, school failure, RITS, and then ACI. Population RITS ACI, disproportionally people of color. It all goes hand-in-hand Clown shoes.

Comment #5 by bill bentley on 2014 03 14

Billy,

You obviously want excuses not reasons. Spend a month or two in the schools and then speak with some factual basis.

Comment #6 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 15

I have more than 2 decades experience in urban school settings that include: child care; family literacy, adult education, Child Opportunity Zones, early intervention, school based prevention and treatment, etc., etc., So, I do know what I'm talking about.

Comment #7 by bill bentley on 2014 03 15

Billy ,

Even if you do say so your self.

Not to quibble but looks more like community organizer activity - not that there is anything wrong with that, but I don't see time in a junior or senior high class room.

Comment #8 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 15

I'm not a community organizer. I have done both direct mental health work and program planning and development. Here's the list of schools I've worked in and with: all schools in Kent County from Elementary through High School; in Providence: Fogarty, Sackett,Camden Avenue, Mandela Woods, Springfield Elementary and Middle, Gilber Stewart, Roger Williams, Greene, Hopkins, Hope, Central, Mt. Pleasant; the Bridge Schools, the Middle School Alternative Placement, and many others. Good enough for credentials? Including the teen pregnancy support programs in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls.

Comment #9 by bill bentley on 2014 03 15

Bill,

This is commendable. Are you maintaining that your experience qualifies you to say that the statistics on suspensions point to discrimination as the cause?

With all this experience I would have thought that the use of terms like "cracker" and "clown shoes" would be far beneath such a person with such a resume. Just surprised at the use of an ad hominem approach by someone so credentialed.

Comment #10 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 16




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